Kermit the Frog famously sang a song that sadly proclaimed, “it’s not easy being green.” But, even if it’s not always be the easiest thing to be, it can definitely pay dividends to be green.
In honor of America Recycles Day, we thought we’d provide some enticing facts and tips on the importance of being an environmentally friendly dental practice. Although you may have never even heard of this obscure holiday, it truly is something to be celebrated—after all, making your practice more “green” not only benefits the environment, but also you and your practice.
Did you know….
Each year dentists are responsible for generating:
- 3.7 tons of mercury waste
- 1.7 billion sterilization pouches
- 680 million chair barriers, light handle covers, and patient bibs
- 28 million liters of toxic X-ray fixer
- 4.8 million lead foils
That’s TONS (literally and figuratively) of waste! You may be saying to yourself, “but my practice wouldn’t even make a dent in this.” Well, we might beg to differ. Here’s how:
Why go “green”?
You can feel good knowing you’re contributing to a better world
We’ll get to how going green can make your practice more profitable, but doing your best to be more environmentally conscious can also be a huge collective pat on the back for you and your team. The Huffington Post even wrote about how going green can make you happier, healthier, and more productive. And to add to it, here are 10 more reasons people are generally happier when they consciously try to contribute to the betterment of the environment.
“Going green” helps your practice “save green”
According to dental experts, “Adopting eco-friendly practices can save dentists thousands of dollars a year, in addition to preserving natural resources.” Below are details about specific ways to boost a practice’s profits with eco-friendly strategies.
Patients are more loyal to a “green” practice
People are becoming more and more concerned about the environment and other social issues and your patients are no different. One of the ways customers address this concern is by choosing businesses that show a commitment to making the world a better place. In fact, 95% of consumers would switch brands—when faced with similar price and quality—to one associated with a cause they care about (i.e. environment, poverty, education, etc.).
Being eco-friendly creates more engaged employees
About half of the employees you interview will care about whether your practice has an eco-friendly focus. More specifically, 51% of employees won’t work for a business that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments.
How to boost profits: “save green” by “going green”
ADA has a list of 80 ways to make your practice more green. We’re going to dive deeper on five of the most important among these:
- Invest in an amalgam separator
Unfortunately, dental practices are one of the biggest contributors to mercury ending up in local wastewater. Perhaps the best way to contribute to the environment as a dentist is purchasing and installing an amalgam separator—an investment of less than $1,000.
- Replace disposable products with reusable ones
Naturally, we’re not even going to suggest reusing your gloves…. Ewww. But according to a report by the Los Angeles Dental Society, “choosing disposable paper or plastic rinse cups instead of reusable substitutes alone can cost a practice $178+.”
The report continues, “Switching to reusable stainless steel tips and steam sterilization can save dentists $3,500/year; using tooth-colored restorations will save a whopping $37,000/year; and digital imaging and patient charting will save nearly $9,000/year.”
- Take advantage of tax credits and rebates
Tax credits and rebates exist for small businesses to receive tax breaks for being environmentally conscious.
According to energy.gov, “A tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot is available to owners of new or existing buildings who install (1) interior lighting, (2) building envelope or (3) heating, cooling, ventilation, or hot water systems that reduce the building’s total energy and power cost by 50% or more” (not a trivial amount of money depending on the size of your practice).
Not to mention the fact that installing these energy saving items will reduce your energy costs on top of the tax rebate.
- Become a digital marketing guru
As we’ve highlighted in previous posts, 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, and about half of all consumers share this distaste for traditional advertising efforts by businesses.
The internet has been rapidly changing the advertising landscape over the past couple decades. In 2011, The Internet Advertising Bureau (there’s apparently a bureau for everything) reported that “It’s official: internet advertising is bigger than newspaper advertising.”
One of the best ways to attract patients today is with online reviews. In fact, 88% of patients trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Don’t know how to get started with online reviews? This free infographic will help you become an online reviews master in six simple steps.
On the other hand, a recent study by TrueImpact found that “direct mail was easier to process mentally and tested better for brand recall.” It appears paper-based advertising still serves a purpose, but, when it’s all said and done, you should choose the type of marketing that works best for your specific practice and audience.
Plus, moving from paper-based advertising to digital advertising will not have as big of an impact on the environment as buying an amalgam separator or replacing disposable products with reusable ones.
- Move to digital imaging, charting, and scheduling
A study in the US National Library of Medicine has found that 74% of solo- and 78.7% of group practitioners are now using electronic dental records. However, an article in DentalTown says these numbers are misleading and that “only around 15 percent of dentists in the United States can say they have a truly ‘paperless’ practice.”
An article by DrBicuspid claims that “switching from conventional x-ray systems to digital imaging technology eliminates the use of toxic chemicals and lead foils, in addition to exposing patients to 90% less radiation.”
The article continues, “With up to $10,000 in operational savings per year, the switch to digital x-rays can pay for itself in about two years.”
When it comes to scheduling, there’s always the option to invest in software solutions that will take your schedule online and make your reminders and confirmations automated and digital, which can save you time and put more patients in your chairs. Texting has proven to be the best medium for reminders and confirmations, and patients generally prefer them to other options.
In the end, you always have to do what’s best for your practice, but we hope you’ve taken a few good ideas from this post that you can implement. So, get out there and become a more eco-friendly practice.